ATLANTA — Kirby Smart is a national championship coach and a recruiting machine, but he’s also human, to the extent the challenges of work/life balance affect him like anyone else.
Smart, speaking at the Texas High School Coaches Association on Tuesday, indicated there was a time it felt like his job was getting the best of him.
“For instance, this summer, in June, we had official visits on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Smart said, per a FootballScoop.com story. “I told the staff, ‘We’re going to take every Monday off, because we’re working every Friday, Saturday, Sunday.’
“So last June (2021) — the coming out of COVID June — I was ready to step down and resign. I was done.”
To be clear, Smart clarified with DawgNation on Tuesday that his comments were not meant to be taken literally, so much as within the context of the workplace balance question.
Georgia fans can be excused if they are a little jumpy, as Smart has yet to sign a contract extension that UGA president Jere Morehead said would be completed by the third week in June.
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Smart is believed to be in line for a raise that could earn him between $10 million and $11 million a year and stretch out over the next 10 years.
Coaches are not only spending time recruiting new players, but they must now also work to maintain the players already on the roster after one-time transfer legislation was passed last summer.
To boot, UGA administration has put Smart at a disadvantage with Georgia playing its designated home game with Florida in Jacksonville every other season, giving him one less opportunity than every other SEC program to host the top players in the nation in their home state.
Even if UGA could bring recruits to the Jacksonville game, they would not see the Georgia campus or have time to spend with Smart and his coaching staff and players because Athens is 340 miles away -- while Gainesville sits just 70 miles from Jacksonville.
Smart, who was part of the rivalry as an All-SEC safety at Georgia, has expressed his feelings on the disadvantages of losing a home game from Sanford Stadium.
“All I ever say is that the home atmosphere we have is incredible, and the ability to bring recruits in is big,” Smart said last October on a Zoom call, asked his thoughts on the Georgia-Florida game being played in Jacksonville.
“I stand by the fact that we miss opportunities and everyone else in the country doesn’t.”
More recently, Tennessee head coach and Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt recently put the Jacksonville issue into perspective.
This could be the final season UGA plays its designated home game with Florida away from Sanford Stadium if the contract is not extended.
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“I do know that just from a recruiting standpoint if I’m one of the top players in the country …. (Florida) is going to be a game that’s going to draw some of the best players in the country,” Pruitt said of the Georgia-Florida rivalry.
“That (Florida game) may be the only time that maybe if it’s a Georgia home game that they possibly could get one of the best players in the country on their campus to see what a game-day atmosphere is in Athens.”
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Regardless of what athletic director Josh Brooks and Morehead decide to do with the Bulldogs’ home game with Florida -- Jacksonville will keep offering them more money to keep the game out of Athens -- Smart shared how difficult it is for coaches to see their families.
“I have tried hard to take the calendar -- and I take my staff, my most tenured coaches, whether it’s Dell McGee, Glenn Schumann -- and I say, ‘Hey guys I want y’all to come together to look at the calendar for the coaches, the work schedule and I want you to give me some ideas of where we can steal some time off,” Smart said.
“First off, families are always welcome at our office, they can come to our practices. I got coaches’ kids who come out to the practice field and do the drills with the coach because I’m like ‘You won’t get to be around your son otherwise.’
“So if he wants to come to practice, he can come to practice any time he wants. He can be a part of anything as long as he’s not in the way or a distraction. I want our families, I want our wives to bring their kids out there at the end of practice, because our players need to see that.”